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Investigating Srebrenica

Investigating Srebrenica: Institutions, Facts, Responsibilities

Isabelle Delpla
Xavier Bougarel
Jean-Louis Fournel
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Investigating Srebrenica
    Book Description:

    In July 1995, the Bosnian Serb Army commanded by General Ratko Mladic attacked the enclave of Srebrenica, a UN "safe area" since 1993, and massacred about 8,000 Bosniac men. While the responsibility for the massacre itself lays clearly with the Serb political and military leadership, the question of the responsibility of various international organizations and national authorities for the fall of the enclave is still passionately discussed, and has given rise to various rumors and conspiracy theories. Follow-up investigations by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and by several commissions have dissipated most of these rumors and contributed to a better knowledge of the Srebrenica events and the part played by the main local and international actors. This volume represents the first systematic, comparative analysis of those investigations. It brings together analyses from both the external standpoint of academics and the inside perspective of various professionals who participated directly in the inquiries, including police officers, members of parliament, high-ranking civil servants, and other experts. Evaluating how institutions establish facts and ascribe responsibilities, this volume presents a historiographical and epistemological reflection on the very possibility of writing a history of the present time.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-473-7
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Maps
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. viii-ix)
  5. List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
    (pp. x-x)
  6. List of the Srebrenica Reports and Websites
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  7. Chronology
    (pp. xiv-xviii)
  8. [Maps]
    (pp. xix-xx)
  9. Introduction The Judge, the Historian, the Legislator
    (pp. 1-22)
    Isabelle Delpla, Xavier Bougarel and Jean-Louis Fournel

    On 11 July 1995, the enclave and town of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia fell into the hands of General Mladić’s Serb nationalist forces. They organized the forced transfer of women and children, massacred about eight thousand Bosniaks,¹ and, in the months that followed, unearthed and transported the corpses to secondary graves in order to conceal evidence of their crimes.² Yet the enclave had officially been declared a “safe area” by the United Nations in 1993 and its inhabitants—including thousands of refugees from across eastern Bosnia—had been put under the protection of the international community, which was represented in...

  10. Chapter 1 The ICTY Investigations
    (pp. 23-39)
    Jean-René Ruez and Isabelle Delpla

    Isabelle Delpla (I.D.): Between 1995 and 2001, you led the inquiry into the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre. You have on several occasions presented the results of your investigation before the ICTY, in particular during the trial of General Krstić, commander of the Drina Corps of the Army of the Republika Srpska,¹ where your testimony lasted three days.² Could you provide a general idea of the scope, objectives, and principal findings of your investigation into these events? In particular, can you explain how the distinction between combatants and non-combatants—the foundation of international humanitarian law—was applied?

    Jean-René Ruez (J.-R.R.): The...

  11. Chapter 2 Introduction to the “Report-Form”: Characteristics and Temporalities of a Production of Public Truth
    (pp. 40-55)
    Jean-Louis Fournel

    Between 1999 and 2004,¹ various reports on the “Srebrenica event” were made public. They had been prepared by parliamentary commissions (in France and the Netherlands, at least), international agencies (the UN), and governments (the Dutch Government’s report, which was entrusted to an independent research institute, the NIOD, and the Republika Srpska (RS) Government’s report that was firmly requested by the Office of the High Representative of the international community in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the OHR, and prepared by a mixed commission of experts, including legal experts, historians, and the head of the International commission on missing persons).² In each of these cases,...

  12. Chapter 3 Reassessing the French Parliamentary Fact-Finding Mission on Srebrenica (2001)
    (pp. 56-66)
    Pierre Brana

    This chapter examines the work carried out by the Fact-Finding Mission on Srebrenica in the light of the logic and specificities inherent to this kind of parliamentary procedure. The issue under consideration here is the way public institutions—in this case, the French Parliament—can contribute to a better understanding of the truth concerning an event of the utmost importance and gravity. It also involves the forms such parliamentary oversight of executive power can take, especially in the areas of foreign affairs and national defense—two highly sensitive domains in the traditional balance between executive and legislative power.

    To understand...

  13. Chapter 4 A Tale of Two Commissions: Dutch Parliamentary Inquiries During the Srebrenica Aftermath
    (pp. 67-85)
    Christ Klep

    In the Netherlands, Srebrenica has become synonymous with awkward moral questions and self-scrutiny, as well as political pragmatism and even escapism. The shock of Srebrenica gained extra depth because the Netherlands has always taken pride in defining itself as a leading force in democracy and human rights. Along similar lines, Dutch soldiers are traditionally seen as well suited for peace operations, because of their supposed soberness, cosmopolitanism, broad education, and language skills.

    The Dutch involvement with Srebrenica centered on the presence of a peacekeeping battalion of United Nations blue helmets.DutchbatIII was only weeks from completing its intended tour...

  14. Chapter 5 Reflections on the Dutch NIOD Report: Academic Logic and the Culture of Consensus
    (pp. 86-103)
    Pieter Lagrou

    In an official ceremony on 4 December 2006, the Dutch Minister of Defense, Henk Kamp, awarded military decorations to the soldiers and officers who had been members ofDutchbat, the Dutch battalion responsible for protecting the population of the Srebrenica enclave. This gesture, which provoked a wave of protest, seems incomprehensible givenDutchbat’sdramatic failure to carry out its mission, the result of which was the massacre of about eight thousand people confided to its protection. It seems that the Dutch political authorities have never raised the question of the responsibility of Dutch soldiers in the Srebrenica tragedy or, if...

  15. Chapter 6 Reopening the Wounds? The Parliament of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Question of Bosniak Responsibility
    (pp. 104-130)
    Xavier Bougarel

    The July 1995 Srebrenica massacre is unanimously seen by Bosniaks as one of the major symbols of the genocide they experienced during the recent conflict and of the passive—indeed, complicit—attitude of the international community while it was underway. Moreover, the majority of works published in the Federation² concerning the events in Srebrenica consist either of survivors’ testimony or of translations of journalistic inquiries and official reports published abroad that focus on condemning Serb crimes and the passivity of the United Nations. Yet at the same time, the question of possible Bosniak responsibility in the fall of Srebrenica remains...

  16. Chapter 7 The Long Road to Admission: The Report of the Government of the Republika Srpska
    (pp. 131-147)
    Michèle Picard and Asta M. Zinbo

    This chapter presents the origins and aftermath of the June 2004 report in which the Republika Srpska (RS) acknowledged responsibility for the gross violations of international humanitarian law in Srebrenica in July 1995. On 7 March 2003, the Human Rights Chamber for Bosnia-Herzegovina issued the “Selimović” decision (no. CH/01/8365 et al.) in response to an application filed by families of missing persons. The decision dealt with forty-nine cases relating to Srebrenica and ordered the RS to launch an investigation into the events.² Following this decision, the RS Government set up a commission of inquiry and the chief of staff of...

  17. Chapter 8 Facts, Responsibility, Intelligibility: Comparing the Srebrenica Investigations and Reports
    (pp. 148-176)
    Isabelle Delpla

    What does one learn from reading and comparing the investigations of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and reports by the UN, France, the Netherlands, and the Republika Srpska (RS) on the fall of the Srebrenica enclave and the massacre that followed it? Since reading these texts can be a trying experience, no quick response is available. Those who wish to understand the sequence and gravity of those events are better served by the more literary approach taken by investigative journalists: David Rohde, for example, who inEndgame¹ intertwines the points of view of his various protagonists...

  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 177-185)
  19. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 186-188)
  20. Name Index
    (pp. 189-193)
  21. Subject Index
    (pp. 194-200)